De novo assembly of the Brugia malayi genome using long reads from a single MinION Flow Cell

Filarial nematode infections cause a substantial global disease burden. Genomic studies of filarial worms can improve our understanding of their biology and epidemiology. However, genomic information from field isolates is limited and available reference genomes are often discontinuous. Single molecule sequencing technologies can reduce the cost of genome sequencing and long reads produced from these devices can improve the contiguity and completeness of genome assemblies. In addition, these new technologies can make generation and analysis of large numbers of field isolates feasible.

In this study, we assessed the performance of the Oxford Nanopore Technologies MinION for sequencing and assembling the genome of Brugia malayi, a human parasite widely used in filariasis research.

Using data from a single MinION flowcell, a 90.3 Mb nuclear genome was assembled into 202 contigs with an N50 of 2.4 Mb. This assembly covered 96.9% of the well-defined B. malayi reference genome with 99.2% identity. The complete mitochondrial genome was obtained with individual reads and the nearly complete genome of the endosymbiotic bacteria Wolbachia was assembled alongside the nuclear genome.

Long-read data from the MinION produced an assembly that approached the quality of a well-established reference genome using comparably fewer resources.

Authors: Joseph R. Fauver, John Martin, Gary J. Weil, Makedonka Mitreva, Peter U. Fischer